Superintendent

OCSD Updates
ALL Oneonta schools will be fully remote until 1/19/21

Superintendent

From the Desk of Superintendent Brindley

November 24 Extension of Remote Instruction


November 24th,  2020      
              
Dear Oneonta City School District Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Community,

I am writing to share additional COVID-19 concerns and a very important announcement relative to instruction. This is an extremely difficult decision to make but feel as though it is best for the Yellowjacket community. Please note the following:

  • ALL OCSD schools will go fully remote until Tuesday, January 19th
  • We will follow our remote instruction schedule during this time and return to hybrid instruction on January 19th.  
  • Please note that all New Visions students will continue to attend their program.
  • All BOCES CTE (Career and Technical Education) students will continue to attend their programs as usual during this time.
  • All Full Day BOCES students will continue to attend their programs as normal.
  • Meal distribution will continue to take place at our designated meal distribution points on Wednesdays.
The below represent some of the contributing factors leading to this decision:

  • Concerns associated with our community’s rising COVID-19 cases, recent cases that have affected our schools, uncertainty of what the holiday impact may have on COVID cases, need to establish a bit of educational stability and consistency during this time. 
  • We have learned of a fifth confirmed positive COVID-19 staff member and one confirmed positive student. Two staff members work out of Riverside Elementary, one out of Greater Plains Elementary, and one who is shared between two schools. The student is enrolled in the high school. The impact of this information has resulted in substantial quarantining.
  • As always, we immediately began working with the Department of Health to contact trace.
  • As of today, we currently have 81 students in quarantine total. Please note that these are not all related to today’s update. 
  • We have 27 staff members in quarantine who are also not all related to these new positives. 
  • We are seeing testing sites booking two days out and results slow to come back.
  • It appears as though the contact tracers as well as the Otsego County Department of Health are doing the very best they can but are facing tremendous challenges with the rising cases.
  • The Department of Health has expressed concern relative to our district as we are seeing a rise in those who are symptomatic. The DoH has referred to Oneonta as the “epicenter” of this outbreak. 
  • Our community is witnessing its highest COVID-19 positive numbers outside of what we experienced with the college spike.
As always, health, safety, and educational stability and sustainability inform these difficult decisions. This is a challenging situation that we all find ourselves in. What is certain is that the community spread of this illness is on the rise and that is concerning. Each day presents a different set of circumstances impacting our capability to work with our students. The uncertainty and use of these rolling and precautionary remote periods of late are difficult for our collective school community to navigate. My hope is that this pause in our hybrid learning model and transition to full remote will give us some necessary educational stability, provide an opportunity to limit exposure risks, and an opportunity to assess the impact of the holidays on our community and schools. I feel that our bouncing in and out of hybrid and remote instruction is educationally unsound and I feel that it will only continue as we work our way through the holidays. Of equal importance is the opportunity for you and your families to plan accordingly and not have to wonder what mode of instruction our schools will be in on any given day for a period of time. I recognize that this decision will lead to challenges but feel that it is the prudent one to make under these current circumstances. 

As I am sure is true for you, I am anxious for the opportunity for us all to be back in our schools together without the angst and uncertainty associated with COVID-19. We all long for the day wherein our school community can be one again so that all can take advantage and enjoy all that the OCSD offers. Again, difficult circumstances but I wish all of our Yellowjacket families much happiness, safety, and health throughout the holiday season, and well beyond. I give thanks to all those who work and put themselves in harm’s way for our health and benefit.  

In appreciation,

Thomas Brindley 

November 23 Letter: Holiday Travel


November 23, 2020

Dear OCSD Parent(s)/Guardian(s)/Faculty and Staff:

As Thanksgiving is upon us, I wanted to write and share the travel guidelines recently released by New York State.  

I believe that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the impact that holiday travel may have on the spread of COVID-19. As you are well aware, we are seeing cases on the rise in this community that are impacting our school district. We will continue to monitor the collective health of our area and work closely with the Otsego County Department of Health. As always, we will make decisions relative to instruction that are safety focused. New York State has released travel protocols for all residents. I wanted to share the highlights with you as we enter into this holiday season: 

For any traveler entering New York State from another state, exempting the contiguous states, the new guidelines for travelers to test-out of the mandatory 14-day quarantine are below:

  • For travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours:
    • Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state.
    • The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
    • On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain seek another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.

  • For travelers who were in another state for less than 24 hours:
    • The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.
    • However, the traveler must fill out the traveler information form (can be located at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory) upon entry into New York State, and take a COVID diagnostic test 4 days after their arrival in New York.

Local health departments will validate tests, if necessary, and if a test comes back positive, will issue isolation orders and initiate contact tracing. The local health department must make contact with the state the traveler came from in order to ensure contact tracing proceeds there as well. All travelers must continue to fill out the traveler information form upon arrival into New York State.
 
Please be mindful of these travel guidelines if traveling as well as receiving travelers into your homes. 

Please know that the OCSD continues to ensure that the established protocols and regular cleaning of the buildings continue and are designed to provide an environment that is as safe and healthy as we can. However, our region is seeing some concerning COVID trends. As such, we all need to continue to make good choices to keep each other safe and healthy.  Please contact me with any questions you may have.

For now, please be safe and best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
                                                                  
Thomas Brindley

November 18 Positive COVID-19 Case


November 18, 2020

Dear Oneonta City School District Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Community,

As we are all well aware of the rising COVID-19 cases around New York State and elsewhere, I am writing to share important information about COVID-19 concerns. Please note the following:
  • Today, Wednesday, November 18th, 2020, the OCSD was made aware that we have a positive COVID-19 staff member at the Oneonta Middle School. We have also learned that several of our staff members are close contacts to two additional positive COVID cases resulting in substantial quarantining.
  • We immediately began working with the Department of Health to contact trace.
  • Those impacted by these cases will be quarantined through the Thanksgiving break.  
  • These new cases have some substantial impact on several of our buildings. 
  • ConsequentlyAll OCSD schools will go fully remote beginning tomorrow November 19th through at least Monday, November 30th All OCSD students should prepare to follow their schedule remotely during the above listed dates.
  • Please note that all New Visions students will continue to attend their program.
  • All BOCES CTE (Career and Technical Education) students will attend their programs as usual during this time.
  • All Full Day BOCES students will attend their programs as normal.
  • BOCES students will be receiving an auto notification around 6 pm this evening regarding transportation to and from BOCES.
  • Meal distribution will continue to take place at our designated meal distribution points on Wednesdays.
  • Staff members as well as families of students who meet the criteria for close contact, as determined by the DoH, will receive phone calls from the Department of Health or by someone from the District.
As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and this community inform these difficult decisions. This is a fluid situation as has been the case since March. If safe, and IF we have the staffing to return to our hybrid schedule, we will return to school on Monday, November 30th, 2020.  This may change and if an extended period of remote learning is warranted to safeguard our students, staff, and our families, I will again notify you all. I appreciate your understanding in this matter and as odd as it seems under these circumstances, I certainly wish you and your families health and happiness this Thanksgiving and always.

In appreciation,
Thomas Brindley 

November 15 Greater Plains COVID case


November 15th,  2020

Dear Oneonta City School District Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Community,

I am writing to share important information about a COVID-19 concern. Please note the following:
  • Tonight, Sunday, November 15th, 2020, the OCSD was made aware that we have a positive COVID-19 student enrolled at Greater Plains Elementary.
  • We immediately began working with the Department of Health to contact trace.
  • The result is that both students and a host of Greater Plains staff will need to quarantine until at least November 20th
  • As we have been struggling to fill COVID-related precautionary absences among our staff, this situation places us in a position where we cannot fill these additional vacancies. 
  • Consequently, Greater Plains Elementary School will go fully remote beginning tomorrow November 16th through at least Friday, November 20th All Greater Plains Elementary students should prepare to follow their schedule remotely during the above listed dates.
  • Riverside and Valleyview Elementary buildings will open as normal.
  • The Oneonta Middle School and the Oneonta High School will open as normal.
  • Staff members as well as families of students who meet the criteria for close contact, as determined by the DoH, will receive phone calls from the Department of Health or by someone from the District.
Lastly, this decision will only impact Greater Plains Elementary School. As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and community inform these difficult decisions. It is our goal to return to our hybrid schedule for Greater Plains on Monday, November 23rd, 2020.  If this changes I will notify everyone as soon as possible. I appreciate your understanding in this matter and will update our Yellowjacket community with further information.

In appreciation,
Thomas Brindley 

October 28, 2020 Rapid Testing Update


Dear Oneonta City School District Families, 

I am writing to share that we recently received information from the New York State Department of Health regarding tests designed to detect the COVID-19 virus. This new information will impact when a student, faculty, or staff member can return to in-person instruction. The New York State Department of Health has advised that a negative rapid test result is no longer sufficient and an additional test, (specimen sent to a lab for evaluation) will need to be performed to confirm the rapid test results. This change will undoubtedly lengthen the period of time that someone will be absent from in-person instruction. 

Please note the bulleted process for COVID-19 testing below and the updated Return to School process below:
  • If a rapid test is conducted:
    1. Positive results-no confirmatory test required (Unless required by the Department of Health)
    2. Negative result- confirmatory test required
  • Students/Faculty/ Staff cannot return to school based on a negative rapid test alone, they must also provide proof of a negative confirmatory test as well.
 
Return to school protocol for Students/Faculty/Staff:
  • May not return until:
    • Cleared by a physician to return to school with documentation indicating alternate diagnosis and that Covid-19 is not suspected
    • Tested and found Covid-19 free (negative test – No Longer can be just a rapid test)
      • Been feeling well and fever free without medication for at least 24 hours
      • And documentation of a negative test is provided to the school
    • Diagnosed with Covid-19 (positive test): 
      • 10 days isolation from onset of symptoms.
      • Feeling well and fever free without medication for at least 72 hours.
      • And, released by the DOH. Student/staff will receive release documentation to provide to the school.
    • If you are unable to be evaluated by a physician or obtain test results within 48 hours of onset of symptoms student/staff will be presumed positive (DOH will be notified) and unable to return to school until:
      • negative test result received, feeling well, and fever free for 24 hours without use of medication
      • positive test result received and released from isolation by DOH
 
Thank you so much. We will forward any future updates as we receive them. Continued health and safety to you all.  
 
Sincerely,
Thomas Brindley

COVID Update

October 22nd, 2020

Dear Oneonta City School District Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Community,

I am writing to share important follow-up and new information about a COVID-19 concern. Please note the following:
  • Yesterday, we were made aware of the high probability of a positive case with one of our high school faculty members.
  • We worked with our Department of Health partners and took measures to protect our school community by going fully remote in the middle and high school for today and Friday.
  • I am happy to report that this suspected case is, in fact, negative.
  • However, we have just learned that one of our high school faculty members, in what appears to be an unconnected case, has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • We have already engaged in a collaborative fashion with the Department of Health and the teacher to identify who might be deemed to have been in close contact with this faculty member.
  • Parents/guardians of students in this teacher’s class in the Blue Cohort, have been notified through an autonotification of this occurrence if determined that their child is considered in close contact to the affected teacher, they would be receiving a call from the Otsego County Department of Health and/or someone from the school district. This autonotification is not intended to alarm but to simply inform parents or guardians of students specific to the affected teacher and have this initial contact to our families come from our school district as opposed to a call from the DoH.  ***Please note that as I compose this update, I have heard from the Department of Health that NO student or any faculty/staff member is deemed a “close contact” to the affected teacher*** This is good news but we will continue to monitor this and all health and safety matters.
  • The Oneonta Middle School and Oneonta High School will remain fully remote for Friday, October 23rd.   All 6-12 students should prepare to follow their schedule remotely on these two days.
  • All elementary buildings will open as normal.
  • All Day BOCES students will attend their BOCES classes. 
  • Oneonta students will NOT attend CTE courses at BOCES on Friday.
  • New Visions students WILL attend program on Friday. Students can meet in front of the high school at 8:15 am. and the bus will transport from there. 
  • Meals will be served in the elementary buildings as usual.
Thank you ALL again. It is our goal to return to our hybrid schedule for all grades on Monday, October 26th, 2020.  If there any further actions that need to be employed to safeguard our school community related this this situation, I will send an additional update.
In appreciation,
Thomas Brindley

HS/MS Fully Remote 10/22-10/23


October 21st,  2020

Dear Oneonta City School District Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Community,

I am writing to share important information about a COVID-19 concern. Please note the following:
  • Today, Wednesday, October 21st, 2020, we were made aware that although no official results as of yet, there is a high probability of a positive case with one of our high school faculty members.
  • As we await test confirmation, we will continue to work with the Department of Health to contact trace should that need arise.
  • Out of an abundance of caution and as we await test confirmation and work with the Otsego County Department of Health, the Oneonta Middle School and Oneonta High School will go fully remote for the remainder of this week (Thursday 10/22 & Friday 10/23). All 6-12 students should prepare to follow their schedule remotely on these two days.
  • All elementary buildings will open as normal.
  • All Day BOCES students will attend their BOCES classes. 
  • Oneonta students will NOT attend CTE courses at BOCES on Thursday or Friday.
  • NO New Visions on Thursday or Friday 
  • Once contact tracing is completed and if the result of this particular COVID-19 test is positive, Faculty and staff members as well as families of students who meet the criteria for close contact, as determined by the DoH, will receive phone calls from the District and will be contacted by the DoH.
  • For those OMS and OHS students in need of meals for Thursday and Friday, there will be a meal distribution tent in front of the Oneonta Middle School on Thursday from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.  
  • Meals will be served in the elementary buildings as usual.
Lastly, this decision will only impact grades 6-12. As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and community inform these difficult decisions. It is our goal to return to our hybrid schedule for all grades on Monday, October 26th, 2020.  I appreciate your understanding in this matter and will update our Yellowjacket community with further information.
In appreciation,
Thomas Brindley 

Welcome Back!

October 9, 2020

Dear Yellowjacket Families,

It is with great anticipation that I share the following information in advance of our transition to our hybrid model to begin on Tuesday, October 13th. It will be great to have students back in the buildings after almost exactly seven months. 

In August, the Oneonta City School District presented its initial OCSD Reopening Framework wherein it was established that the 2020-2021 school year would open remotely and transition to a hybrid format on October 13th, if the collective health of our community permitted it. Although this pandemic presents a substantial fluidity to most aspects of our lives, our community is fortunate in that the community spread of our local outbreak appears limited. As such, this transition to this limited degree of in-person instruction is a relief. Our transition plan is encouraged by our Otsego County Department of Health partners. Please find our newly revised OCSD Reopening Framework located on our webpage. We are very excited to be in a position to be able to offer this opportunity to our students. 

This will truly be a team effort as we work together to do everything we can to keep each other safe and healthy along the way. Our schools function at an optimal level when we all feel safe. It is for this reason that we must:
  • Faithfully complete the morning health screening daily. 
  • Provide two acceptable facemasks with your child’s name on them daily. 
  • Share with your child(ren) that mask wearing is not optional in this reopening plan.
  • Provide friendly reminders of the importance of respecting the physical distancing guidelines in place.
  • Sharing the importance of good respiratory and hand washing hygiene.
  • Adhering to the established drop off times contained in the Framework.
  • For those with students who will be receiving busing; please find the Bus Routes here on our Transportation webpage.
NOTE: If you have any questions or concerns about bus routes, call Durham School Services at: 607-433-8205 and press 2 when prompted for the Terminal Manager. 

As we progress through this pandemic, the status of the collective health of our community may/can change quickly causing us to switch to remote learning. I hope that this does not occur, but as a school district, we are ready in any event. 
 
This hybrid transition will be tricky for us all. I have heard some refer to hybrid instruction as trying to build an airplane while it is airborne. We are going to do our very best to maintain the consistency and the momentum of what we are doing now while our devoted teachers do their best to balance the challenge of teaching students in person while simultaneously ZOOMING with our remote learners. Ultimately, we want to provide what it is that our students are doing now in terms of a daily schedule and instruction so that you as parents / guardians know what to expect when your child is learning remotely. Please see page 80 in the Framework, for our Quick Guide for answers and guidance on students who become COVID-19 symptomatic

We still have a ways to go regarding this pandemic and the challenges that it may pose for schools and all other facets of our lives. However, this Yellowjacket community is strong and looking forward to taking this next step in our reopening plan!

Please continued best wishes for health and safety. Thank you...Thomas Brindley

Hybrid Transition Information

September 24, 2020   
                        
Dear Parents/Guardians,
I hope that this letter finds you all safe and well. Here is further information for our tentative return to face-to-face instruction on October 13th.
 
  • An email with your student(s) cohort was sent September 22nd.
  • The deadline to make an instructional decision has been extended to Wednesday, September 30th.
Your next steps are:
  1. Please start on our For Parents web page, and navigate to “Instruction as of 10/13/20”. There you will find details of each of the instructional models.
  2. If you did not receive your child’s color cohort assignment, please call 607-433-8200 and reach out to your child’s school to obtain that information. 
  3. Please provide your child’s school with the correct contact information for all guardians to ensure that you receive any future communications.
  4. Submit your instructional decision for each child by clicking the appropriate link on the Hybrid Instruction” web page https://www.oneontacsd.org/HybridInstructionInformation.aspx
We are excited to welcome our students back! This is unchartered territory and will pose challenges during this transition. We set the bar high in this school district and we will continue to offer the very best product that we can to our students under these difficult circumstances. We understand there may be many questions that revolve around reopening. While we may not have all the specific details about each classroom’s hybrid experience, please feel free to contact the school and we will answer as many of your questions about the framework as possible.
 
We appreciate your cooperation and partnership in these incredibly challenging times for schools. You have all been very patient and understanding along the way and for this, we are grateful. Best wishes for continued health and safety and please contact me if I can be of assistance in any way during this process or at any time moving forward.
 
Please take care…Tom Brindley
 

Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

August 3, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

I am writing to share that our District’s Pandemic Reopening Plan has been posted to our District website.  Please be aware that this is a document that was required to be submitted to the New York State Education Department and New York State Department of Health but remains a work in progress and is subject to change as we await an official announcement from the governor. Many factors could alter the scope of this framework including Executive Orders from the governor, directives and recommendations from the New York State Department of Health, or the Otsego County Department of Health.

Even though I knew better, I truly looked forward to our high school graduation thinking that the uncertainty and craziness that was the 2019-2020 school year would be behind us. However, we know that there remains tremendous uncertainty ahead of us. Working through the “What Ifs” toward a reopening plan has been incredibly difficult. There are simply NO good options. We all want our students back in our brick and mortar buildings. Unfortunately, when school district leaders are being asked to make these decisions based on, among other criteria, how many hospital beds are available in our communities, the decision to reopen a school district takes on a different meaning. Having thousands of college students move into our community during a time where we are simply in no better position than we were last March relative to this illness is quite concerning. Creating a phasing in approach allows us to monitor what impact the influx of these young adults may have on the collective health of our community seems most appropriate. As such, we will remain in the remote learning environment to start the 2020-2021 school year. We will reevaluate this model as we approach the Interim Progress Report period of October 9th

Opening schools in anything other than a fully in-person schedule creates many hardships. This framework details a remote learning opening to the 2020-2021 school year that we recognize will be difficult for many. However, as mentioned in the framework, it is our main intention to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff members, and by extension the collective health of our community. This has been and continues to be a difficult time for all of us. During the initial school closure, many of our district parents and guardians were able to work from home, while others left their jobs in order to educate children at home.  Educators were quickly placed into an environment where they needed to learn new learning management systems and teach from home while also assisting their own children who were learning in this manner as well. It has also been tremendously difficult for our students who have not had the face-to-face time with their teachers or the social interaction with their peers that we know are so important. 

The health and safety of students and staff are our top priority. While this plan is in compliance with the requirements set by the New York State Education Department which serve as baseline stipulations, there are occasions wherein we feel that adherence to a more stringent approach as recommended by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), safeguards our school community stakeholders better. Please know that the guidelines and protocols that have been established are not flexible. As a school district, we have kept safety first and foremost and we will continue to do so. 

The Reopening Framework posted on our District’s website, contains information about our phased in approach to the opening of school for the 2020-2021 school year as well as many safety procedures, protocols, and expectations. It also contains information about the three formats under which we may be attending school at some point throughout this school year. Please note that there is also a “Quick Guide” that I hope will answer many questions that you might have. My hope is that by this school year’s end, we find ourselves fully opened with the medications and vaccines in place to protect us all. 

Thank you for your cooperation and continued understanding during this time. I am appreciative to all of our faculty, staff, community partners, and our parents and guardians who have provided input that informed this framework. I recognize that for many, reopening remotely is not desirable and I respect that position. 

We have begun providing professional development and meetings designed to culminate with the information that our students/families, and faculty and staff will need in order to create a standards-based and meaningful educational experience. There will be other correspondence from this school district or your child’s respective school(s) with specific information. 

For now, I continue to wish all of our OCSD families good health. As always, please do not hesitate to call or email me with any questions (office: 607-433-8200 X-1301 or [email protected]). 

Fall 2020

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